49ers unified in State of Franchise address

Promising a winner in 2009 to a core group of the most ardent 49ers fans, team president Jed York and the three other men now identified as the leaders of the franchise talked Monday night about both the football and business side of the 49ers operation while detailing the concepts of what the franchise is trying to do and where it is going as it moves forward after a year of tumultuous change.

"The thing that's most important to us is winning," York said during the 49ers' first State of the Franchise address for season ticket holders at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center. "And that's how this team is going to function.

"We're going to do everything that we can to win, and we're going to make sure that the San Francisco 49ers are back in the playoffs this year and that we win the NFC West."

But the 90-minute presentation that featured speeches by York, chief operating officer Andy Dolich, general manager Scot McCloughan and head coach Mike Singletary wasn't so much about bold promises as it was about talking directly to the team's fans and detailing the team's plans for getting back to the top of the NFL after a franchise-record six consecutive losing seasons.

"First and foremost, we will be a team that when you come to the game, you will be proud of and you will be excited to see us play," Singletary said. "My challenge to you is not to sit back and wonder if it's really going to happen and think, ‘I wonder if they're really going to do it this time.' I'm here to tell you that this will come to pass. Be there from the beginning."

Singletary, York, Dolich and McCloughan detailed the team's plans for 2009 on and off the field and covered the spectrum of how the 49ers will operate and what they intend to accomplish while also answering a variety of questions submitted by fans on the Internet and also from fans present in the audience.

The general message was that the 49ers are now an organization led by York at the top, Dolich on the business side, McCloughan in the football front office and Singletary as the football visionary and field general, and those four men are working together as one for a common purpose.

"It's the team," York said. "It's everybody working together. We've talked about it. It's not just one person doing it. It's everybody supporting the other and understanding what we're trying to do as the 49ers. What is the 49ers' vision? It's not what's Singletary's vision, not what's McCloughan's vision, not what's mine, not what's Dolich's vision. It's what's the 49ers vision, and I think the four of us understand that and see it together."

Said McCloughan: "We've made some big decisions, we have this thing headed in the right direction and we're going to get it right. I have numerous people around me that are really good at what they do and we're all in this together and we'll be successes together."

Among the several issues addressed Monday, York said the 49ers remain committed to building a new stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area and will consider sharing a new venue with the cross-bay rival Oakland Raiders.

But York also revealed, because of the recent economic downturn, the team's goal of playing the 2012 NFL season in a new home will not be met and the 49ers won't have a new stadium built and ready for use until a later date.

"Whatever we do, we are going to stay the San Francisco 49ers," said York, the 27-year-old son of team owners John York and Denise DeBartolo York. "And we want to make sure that our fans know that we are going to build a championship-caliber team and we are going to have a championship-caliber place to play."

York said plans to build a new stadium near the Great America theme park in Santa Clara remain the team's first priority. The 49ers continue to work closely with Santa Clara officials on the project, which the team hopes can go to a ballot before Santa Clara voters in November.

The 49ers also continue to explore options in San Francisco at Hunters Point and Candlestick Park, where the team has played its home games since 1971.

"Everything that we're working on is to get something done in the Bay Area," York said. "I do take some responsibility with our relationship with the city of San Francisco. I haven't heard from Mayor (Gavin) Newsom in close to two years. In order for anything to get done - refurbishing Candlestick, looking at Hunters Point as an option, looking at a complete remodel of Candlestick - there has to be an open dialogue between the 49ers and the city of San Francisco."

York said the 49ers are not actively seeking a stadium deal with the Raiders, but the team wants to continue exploring every option that it has.

"The NFL wants us to look at sharing a stadium and that's something we'll definitely consider," York said. "If anybody has interest in looking at sharing a building, we're happy to sit down and talk. Do I think it's definitely going to happen and we're going to share a building with the Raiders? No I don't. But I wouldn't rule out anything in the Bay Area."

While new stadium plans remain on course for the future, the team is determinedly focused on the now and getting the 49ers back to the winning ways enjoyed during the team's nearly two-decade dynasty that ended at the turn of the century.

"As I've said to everybody in our building and office, it's up to us to put this team back on the top of the mantel," York said. "And that's what we're going to continue to strive and fight to do."


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